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The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death, #2)
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The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death #2)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  7,769 ratings  ·  848 reviews
Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of historical fiction in the enthralling second novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, featuring medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar.

Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, has died an agonizing death by poison—and the king's estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime...more
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published January 31st 2008 by Putnam Adult (first published 2008)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
29th out of 969 books — 2,381 voters
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan BradleyThe Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. KingMaisie Dobbs by Jacqueline WinspearMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Favorite Historical Mystery Series
21st out of 647 books — 644 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Donald
This is an okay historial murder-myster-whodunit. The main problem is with the main character; I never liked her. She also has problems with what she believes; in one instant, she's giving a poor girl a cross necklace and in the other, she's saying things like she doesn't want anything to do with a God who allows [insert whatever it is she's railing against at the moment], but then later prays for God's protection. Confusing. The author also repeats herself ad nauseum. Yes, we know what the main...more
Linda
Who knew one could find murder mysteries placed in twelfth century England? A very palatable way to learn history.
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

This mystery novel is the second outing for Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, in (reluctant) service to His Majesty Henry II Plantagenet, and based in and around Oxford.

It's a fun book to read, and Adelia is fun to spend time with. She's a character with a complete lack of history, as she's a foundling, and she's invented herself as a fish out of water as a result. She's simply not anyone's but her own, unlike most people.

Her new baby daughte...more
Meredith
I was, by the barest whisper, sufficiently curious about the heroine from "Mistress of the Art of Death" to get a copy of this from the local library. It's a fast read - I churned through it in about a day - but man. I was disappointed by its predecessor, and this one's not all that great either. Franklin's writing is more than a little ham-fisted at times, and it gets repetitive. Again, I wasn't too surprised when the big reveal came along at the end.

Also, I'm coincidentally in the middle of Al...more
LJ
THE DEATH MAZE (aka The Serpent’s Tale) (Hist. Mys-Adelia Aguilar-England-1172) – VG+
Franklin, Ariana – 2nd in series
Bantam Press, 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780593056509

First Sentence: The two men’s voices carried down the tunnels with a reverberation that made them indistinguishable but, even so, gave the impression of a business meeting.

King Henry II refused to let Adelia Aguilar return to her home at the School of Medicine in Sicily so she is living in the fens with her baby daughter Allie,...more
Nicole
The Serpent’s Tale by Arianna Franklin is the second book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series set in Medieval England during the reign of King Henry I (Plantagenet). I am not providing details of the first book, Mistress of the Art of Death, or a summary of The Serpent’s Tale.

In The Serpent’s Tale the author conveys more a sense of delight in telling a tale of murder than in Mistress of the Art of Death, which I felt more a sense of dread and doom throughout, plus the child murders being...more
Alondra
4 Stars

I am loving this series. Here we have Adelia on the case again at Henry's 'request'; to investigate the poisoning of one of his mistresses.

Adelia does what she does best; questions, investigates and theorizes. However, when Allies life is threatened, Adelia almost abandons the investigation altogether..... But, she just won't let it rest, and she knows Henry's demands will be enforced, one way or another. So, with bodies piling up and the possibility of not one but two crimes to solve, A...more
Marleen
I love everything Ariana Franklin / Diana Norman writes. Everything. She’s so talented and has a knack for bringing riveting historical fiction come alive.
Simply put, Franklin’s books are for me the definition of a captivating read. I’m especially very fond of the characters I meet on the page; they are colorful, quirky, well-fleshed and very human.
The Middle-ages are such a dark time, no doubt about it. Here, notwithstanding that the author gives us glimpses of historical reality and we get a...more
Mz. H
I believe that I enjoyed this book more than the last, perhaps because the characters were already established and so there was less background and more action. Even when they were locked away and snowed in at the abbey, it continued to be entertaining. While these books certainly would not qualify and high literature, they are fun examinations of history and they are, most definitely, historical fiction, which the author readily admits too.

I know some other reviewers of the book scoff at the ap...more
Wench
Put Temperance Brennan from "Bones" in the Plantagenet era, make her a less sympathetic and more inconsistent character, and add a heaping helping of heavy-handed WOMEN HAD IT TERRIBLY BAD BACK THEN AND THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES, AND IF I (THE AUTHOR IN THE GUISE OF THE MAIN CHARACTER) WERE IN CHARGE THINGS WOULD BE BETTER, and you have this book. I wanted to find out whodunit, then I did. The last 40 pages then became unnecessary. I'm glad I picked this up for only...more
Jennie
To sum up: Adelia is fiercely independent. Some people die in the book and Adelia probably feels guilty. And she keeps getting called a "doctor" even though they didn't use that term for physicians back in the day (I don't care if Franklin did include a note excusing her use of the term; it's still annoying). I don't know...some other stuff happened, I'm sure, but I didn't notice.

I slogged through the first 50 pages, then skipped to the last 50 to see if it got any better. It didn't. Enough alre...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Mar 12, 2014 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Mysteries
I dithered about the rating of this one. In some ways I did enjoy this even more than the first book in the series, Mistress of the Art of Death. I loved the portraits of Henry II of England, his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and his mistress the "Fair" Rosamund. In all those cases they are takes unlike what I'd read of them and made me want to read more about the real history--and I even poked around a little online. That's what good historical fiction does--not only draw you into another world, b...more
Kellyann
I was assured there was no animal cruelty in this book. But a cat was boiled alive on page 10. I don't usually rate vindictively, but I'm going to in this case, 'cause I'm just too pissed off. This crap is unnecessary; in both books, the plot and characterization could easily have done without these descriptions of the torture of live animals.
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Adelia, Mansuer, Gylthia - I enjoyed reading about them again! I am happy I read another book in this series. Normally I am on Eleanor of Aquitaine's side, but I have to admit Henry II has his good side also. The writing is well done, the characters keep in their century, and I am looking forward to reading the next book!
Tamora Pierce
Oops! I put the review for MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH here. Now I'll have to go and re-read THE SERPENT'S TALE to review it correctly--what a chore! ;-)
Kara
Adelia picks up a nemesis in Book 2 that will, I suspect, come back later in the series. She also develops a somewhat better working relationship with Henry II by the end of the book. Henry continues to shine - I liked the hypotheses that the fallout from Becket's murder taught him patience - a cruel patience, but still, patience.

Eleanor... she doesn't thunder off the page the way she should. Eleanor comes off as rather spoiled and self involved. Plenty of time is spent discussing the "Amazon" s...more
Daenerys
Surprisingly, this book is slightly better than its predecessor, Mistress of the Art of Death . Since the first introduction with the unconventional character of Adelia was done in the first book, in this sequel there are also less scenes in which she shows her disregard for status distinctions and traditional gender roles. However, her resentment towards men and their oppression of women is still alive and well, at least in her private reflections, and although it still influences her actions...more
Lauren Fidler
two things happened in this installment that made me incredibly happy:
1. ariana franklin only felt compelled to mention once or twice the unhappy tragedy of thomas becket and henry's "side comment" to his knights about getting rid of the bugger.
2. adelia's full name only gets mentioned twice

two of my biggest gripes about the first book in the series were the previously mentioned items that franklin threw in the reader's face any time there was a chance to do so. here, she seems to have learned...more
Robert J.
I found myself unable to put this book down about half way through, finished it in one sitting. This is a much better book than the first book in the series, though you need to read that one to get the most out of this one, as there are many backward references and character developments. First, let's do away with the negatives: this is not history, most of the events are made up, as are almost all of the main characters. I seriously doubt Henry II would have (*very vague spoiler*) outstripped h...more
Spuddie
#2 Adelia Aguilar "Mistress of the Art of Death" historical mystery. The Bishop (Adelia's former lover Rowley, who is also the father of her child Allie) summons Adelia to investigate the death of one of King Henry's mistresses, Rosamond. It's being made to appear that Queen Eleanor (recently escaped from her imprisonment) has done the deed, and Rowley is anxious to get to Rosamond's manor before the king so he can hopefully divert an all-out war, which is sure to ensue if Henry believes Eleanor...more
Jamie
I enjoyed much of this book. The writing is quite good, particularly the dialogue. As with the first book, the author does a great job with the historical setting, depicting life during a harsh medieval English winter. I continue to enjoy the main characters. (The recap of the first book seemed unnecessarily detailed, but perhaps that's just because I read it not long ago.)

Unfortunately, the mystery centers around the legend that Eleanor of Aquitaine poisoned her husband's famous mistress, Rosam...more
Nancy
This was a rather crowded book. A lot of characters, some of whom did not seem to add to the story but did add to the volume. To be honest, I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first, maybe a little paring down with more focus on the interesting characters (including Gyltha and Mansur) and the relationship between Rowley and Adelia (which could do with some actual relating) would have appealed more to me as I got a little fed up with Adelia (she is somewhat unrelenting and dreary at times)and...more
Jillian
This was definitely a satisfying sequel to Mistress of the Art of Death . Adelia remains her spunky self, and somehow she manages to keep her wits about her in some really grotesque and trying moments. She is smart and perceptive and just so...uniquely herself. I'd love to put her in a room with a couple of other main characters (and authors too for that matter) so she could teach them how to be THEMSELVES and be CONSISTENT (ummm...Jessica Darling? You're first on my list.)

In addition to loving...more
Danielle
Not sure how much time I'll have to read over the holiday weekend, but since this book is available at the library, I want to be ready!

FINAL ADDENDUM

I enjoyed this book very much. The measure of a good read for me is whether I look forward to getting in bed and reading at the end of the day, and this qualifies. It felt a bit more disjointed than the first book - bouncing from one thing to another. And I must admit that I have little interest in the court intrigue and all the loyalites and machin...more
Elke
Nachdem ich den ersten Fall der Totenleserin regelrecht verschlungen habe, war ich sehr gespannt, ob die Fortsetzung das Spannungsniveau halten kann. Und obwohl ich auch diesmal wieder auf jeder Seite mitgeraetselt und mitgefiebert habe, konnte mich die Geschichte nicht auf die gleiche Weise in ihren Bann ziehen.

Die Geschichte spielt im tiefsten Winter und Adelia sitzt mit ihren Leuten in einem eingeschneiten Kloster fest. Diese Siutation schafft eine aeusserst unterkuehlte und laehmende Atmosph...more
Karyl
I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first in the series involving Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Dead. This time, Adelia is drawn into the midst of a rebellion against Henry II and must solve the mystery of who has murdered several people, foremost of whom is the king's own mistress.

If I could write like any author, I would want to write like Franklin. I really enjoy her light, dry quips, which keep the mood light enough so as not to bog the reader in the horror of what's going on in...more
Erika
Jun 22, 2011 Erika rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who don't cry when the save the animals commercials come on tv
I will pick up just about any book and give it a chance. I will read horror stories about a lot of things. I drew the line today though. In the very first chapter a woman threw a live cat in a vat of boiling water and closed the lid. It screeched. Why am I drawing the line here? I've read worse about humans. I think I must like animals more. I don't think that says anything good about me but I don't care. I've convinced myself the rest of this is just drivel I don't need to hear.

Also this line...more
Lisa
In Mistress of the Art of Death, we were introduced to King Henry II is all his glory; in The Serpent's Tale we finally meet his queen and adversary, Queen Elenor. The Serpent's Tale calls Adelia back into the service of the King and his Bishop of St. Alban's in order to find the murderer of Henry's mistress and avert a civil war between the two warring monarchs.

The mystery in The Serpent's Tale is more straight-forward than Franklin's last novel, but no less entertaining. There are no lack of...more
Ron
Adelia is more or less trapped in the Godstow convent by a harsh winter during the Little Ice Age in the 12th century. She goes skating on the frozen Thames with bone ice skates--how easy could that have been? Henry II likes chubby women, but he also loves skinny, older Eleanor of Aquitaine, and not only because she brought with her to the marriage all of Aquitaine. But poor chubby Rosamund has been poisoned in her tower in the middle of the hard-to-penetrate maze––hard until you know where the...more
Steve Lindahl
The Serpent's Tale is the follow up to Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death, the story of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, a brilliant doctor living during the rule of King Henry II. Adelia, as she is most often called, cannot return to her homeland of Sicily because the king, who knows of her ability to identify the cause of death from the remains of a victim, finds her useful and is keeping her in England.

The Serpent's Tale is a good read, but doesn't live up to Franklin's wonde...more
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Ariana Franklin was the pen name of British writer Diana Norman. A former journalist, Norman had written several critically acclaimed biographies and historical novels. She lived in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, the film critic Barry Norman.

Note:
The Death Maze (UK) is published as The Serpent's Tale in the US.
Relics of the Dead (UK) is published as Grave Goods in the US.
The Assassin'...more
More about Ariana Franklin...
Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death, #1) Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death, #3) A Murderous Procession (Mistress of the Art of Death, #4) City of Shadows Winter Siege

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“A daughter,' Rowley scooped up the child and held her high. The baby blinked from sleep and crowed with him. 'Any fool can have a son,' he said. 'It takes a man to conceive a daughter.” 35 likes
“I yield to nobody in my admiration for God, but he's no good in bed.” 18 likes
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